The Inter-War Years

  • Derek Fraser


The First World War had a profound influence upon British society, for quite simply it swept away a whole world and created a new one. Things would never be quite the same and the Edwardian epoch became a vision of the distant past as though a great chasm separated 1918 from 1914. This war was in fact the greatest watershed of modern British history. However, the effects of total war in the twentieth century have been as much concerned with accelerating as with diverting the course of social policy. In very significant ways the stress of fighting the First World War accentuated developments which were already discernible in the prewar years. The crucial developments in the much-expanded role of the state paralleled themes of the Edwardian age in two important respects. First, the greatest single stimulus to the enlargement of the function of the state was national defence. As we shall see, the quest for national security in the war effort caused the state to traverse fields very remote from military strategy. This was in effect a massive extension of the whole national efficiency movement of the early years of the century. Then, prospective fears for national efficiency motivated much pre-war social policy; now, the practical needs of self-defence dictated a greater amount of state intervention, what the Manchester Guardian called ‘War Socialism’.


Insurance Scheme Unemployment Insurance Insured Person Economic Conservative Unemployment Assistance 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    Quoted by B. B. Gilbert, British Social Policy, 1914–1939 (1970) P. 5.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Viscountess Rhondda et al., D. A. Thomas, Viscount Rhondda (1921) p. 267.Google Scholar
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    Quoted by A. Marwick, The Deluge (1967 ed.) p. 262.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    W. H. Beveridge, Unemployment: A Problem of Industry (1930 ed.) p. 420.Google Scholar
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    J. M. Keynes and H. Henderson, Can Lloyd George Do It? (1929) p. 25.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    R. Skidelsky, Politicians and the Slump (1967) p. xi.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Lord Bradbury, in Report of the Macmillan Committee on Finance and Industry quoted by D. Winch, Economics and Policy (1969) p. 131.Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    K. Feiling, The Life of Neville Chamberlain (1946) p. 191.Google Scholar
  9. 18.
    W. Hannington, The Problem of the Distressed Areas (1937) p. 252.Google Scholar
  10. 19.
    C. L. Mowat, Britain between the Wars (1955) p. 471.Google Scholar
  11. 21.
    J. M. Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936) p. 381.Google Scholar
  12. 24.
    J. S. Clarke, ‘National Health Insurance’, in W. A. Robson (ed.), Social Security (1943) p. 112.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Derek Fraser 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derek Fraser
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BradfordUK

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